The Eagle Has Landed…In Utah

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Humans ‘exploring Mars’: Amazing pictures from mission simulation base in UTAH

 

A group of scientists clad in spacesuits  trudge across the bleak red terrain, occasionally pausing to take rock samples  or map the landscape.

After their mission is complete, they will  return to their cramped habitation module, where they live a spartan existence  with limited water, electricity, food and oxygen, a vast distance from  home.

But these amazing pictures are not from the  latest sci-fi thriller set on Mars, but were taken in the deserts of Utah, in  the Western United States.

The ‘astronauts’ are a group of volunteers  who are helping to discover ways to investigate the feasibility of a human  exploration of Mars and use the Utah desert’s Mars-like  terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet.

Utah, the final frontier: Volunteers venture out from the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, which aims to simulate the conditions that will be endured by humans should they ever reach the red planet
 Volunteers venture out from  the Mars Desert Research Station, which aims to simulate the conditions that  will be endured by humans should they ever reach the red planet
To boldly go: Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission venture out in their simulated spacesuits to collect geologic samples for study at the MDRS earlier this month
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission  venture out in their simulated spacesuits to collect geologic samples for study  at the MDRS earlier this month

The project is called the Mars Desert  Research Station (MDRS), a simulated off-world habitat that serves as a test  site for field operations in preparation for future human missions  to Mars.

All outdoor exploration is done wearing  simulated spacesuits and carrying air supply packs and crews live together in a  small communication base with carefully rationed essentials  – everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced  on-site.

The site, near the town of Hanksville, was  chosen because the terrain is similar to the surface of Mars.

It is operated by The Mars Society, a  non-profit organization that advocates space travel, during the cooler winter  months by rotating volunteer crews of six scientists (geologists, biologists,  engineers and more) running simulations  of how it would be to live on Mars and working together to develop field tactics  and study the terrain.

Alien terrain: Csilla Orgel, a geologist and volunteer from Hungary. She has a life-long love of space exploration and is a board member of the Hungarian Astronautical Society
Csilla Orgel, a geologist and volunteer  from Hungary. She has a life-long love of space exploration and is a board  member of the Hungarian Astronautical Society

 

Explorer: Hans van Ot Woud, a mapping researcher and the health and safety officer of the mission, surveys the terrain from a ledge
 Hans van  ‘t Woud, a mapping researcher and the  health and safety officer of the mission, surveys the terrain from a  ledge

 

Melissa Battler (left), a geologist and commander of the crew, climbs a rock formation to collect samples for study
Melissa Battler (left), a geologist and commander of the  crew, climbs a rock formation to collect samples for study
Alone in the cosmos: Volker Maiwald, executive officer and habitat engineer, takes pictures of the surface of 'Mars'
 Volker Maiwald, executive officer  and habitat engineer, takes pictures of the surface of ‘Mars’

 

Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission collect geologic samples from a cliff face. Utah was chosen because it is believed to be geologically and visually similar to Mars
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission collect  geologic samples from a cliff face. Utah was chosen because it is believed to be  geologically and visually similar to Mars
The MDRS aims to investigate the feasibility of a human exploration of Mars and uses the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions there
The MDRS aims to investigate the feasibility of a human  exploration of Mars and uses the Utah desert’s Mars-like terrain to simulate  working conditions there

Each crew spends between two weeks and a  month living in a habitat unit, performing the kind of work astronauts will be  expected to carry out on Mars, such as collecting rock  samples from the surface and examining them back in the habitat, conducting life  science experiments and studying the local geology and  geomorphology.

A statement on the MDRS website says: ‘Mars is the great challenge of our  time.

‘A world with a surface area the size of the  combined continents of the Earth, the Red Planet contains all the elements  needed to support life. As such it is the Rosetta Stone for revealing whether  the phenomenon of life is something unique to the Earth, or prevalent in the  universe.

Red dusk: The weary spacefarers trudge back to the habitat after a day of collecting geologic samples
 The weary spacefarers trudge back to the  habitat after a day of collecting geologic samples
Homeward bound: Csilla Orgel makes her way back to the MDRS, where she will live in cramped conditions with five other astronauts with limited essentials
 Csilla Orgel makes her way back to the  MDRS, where she lives in cramped conditions with five other astronauts
Spartan: The six volunteers live together in a small communications base with limited amounts of electricity, food, oxygen and water
 The six volunteers live together in a small  communications base with limited amounts of electricity, food, oxygen and  water
For safety reasons, there is always one crew member in the habitat in case anything goes wrong on the 'planet's surface'
For safety reasons, there is always one crew member in  the habitat in case anything goes wrong on the ‘planet’s surface’
To be as authentic as possible, everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on site, as it would on a real expedition to Mars
To be as authentic as possible, everything needed to  survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on site, as it would on a real  expedition to Mars

‘The exploration of Mars may also tell us  whether life as we find it on Earth is the model for life elsewhere, or whether  we are just a small part of a much vaster and more varied  tapestry.

‘Moreover, as the nearest planet with all the  required resources for technological civilisation, Mars will be the decisive  trial that will determine whether humanity can expand  from its globe of origin to enjoy the open frontiers and unlimited prospects  available to multi-planet spacefaring species.

‘Offering profound enlightenment to our  science, inspiration and purpose to our youth, and a potentially unbounded  future for our posterity, the challenge of Mars is one that  we must embrace.’

Another core component is to learn about the psychological stresses that may be endured by explorers as they deal with a lack of privacy and long periods of solitude
Another core component is to learn about the  psychological stresses that may be endured by explorers as they deal with a lack  of privacy and long periods of solitude
Cosy: The crew prepare a meal in the habitat. Food must be carefully rationed as the volunteers are not resupplied once they enter the MDRS
 The crew prepare a meal in the habitat. Food must  be carefully rationed as the volunteers are not resupplied once they enter the  MDRS

 

Matt Cross (facing front), a rover engineer, works at his computer. The project attracts space enthusiasts and scientists from all over the world
Matt Cross (facing front), a rover engineer, works at  his computer. The project attracts space enthusiasts and scientists from all  over the world

 

Work: Geologists Melissa Battler (left) and Csilla Orgel analyse geologic samples collected from outside
 Geologists Melissa Battler (left) and  Csilla Orgel analyse geologic samples collected from outside

The Utah site is one of two operated by the  Mars Society as part of its Mars Analog Research Station (MARS) project. The  other site is located in the Canadian Arctic, with two  more planned for the Australian outback and Iceland.

These locations were chosen because some  environmental conditions, geologic features or biological attributes may be  similar to those thought to be encountered on Mars.

The MDRS website adds: ‘In addition to  providing scientific insight into our neighboring world, such analog  environments offer unprecedented opportunities to carry out Mars analog field  research in a variety of key scientific and engineering disciplines that will  help prepare humans for the exploration of that planet. Such research is vitally  necessary.

Wall-E? Engineer Matt Cross works on a rover, which will be used to explore the surface of Utah, similar to the way a robot could be used by human explorers
Wall-E? Engineer Matt Cross works on a rover, which will  be used to explore the surface of Utah, similar to the way a robot could be used  by human explorers

Biology: Hans van Ot Woud checks on plants grown at the Mars Desert Research Station. Astronauts may have to grow their own food on manned missions to Mars
 Hans van  ‘t Woud checks on plants grown at the  Mars Desert Research Station. Astronauts may have to grow their own food on  manned missions to Mars

 

A vintage map of Mars hangs on the wall at the MDRS. The mission is only made possible thanks to volunteers and donors, including film director James Cameron
A vintage map of Mars hangs on the wall at the MDRS. The  mission is only made possible thanks to volunteers and donors, including film  director James Cameron

‘For example, it is one thing to walk around  a factory test area in a new spacesuit prototype and show that a wearer can pick  up a wrench – it is entirely another to subject that same suit to two months of  real field work.

‘Similarly, psychological studies of human  factors issues, including isolation and habitat architecture are also only  useful if the crew being studied is attempting to do real work.’

Mission commander Melissa Battler, who led a  crew of six at the Utah site from February 23 to March 9, said: ‘Humans, we are  explorers… there are a lot of obstacles but we can overcome those  obstacles.’

Hardy: The volunteers can spend up to a month enduring the austere conditions
The volunteers can spend up to a month enduring  the austere conditions
Starry-eyed: The site's observatory as seen from the working and living quarters
 The site’s observatory as seen from the  working and living quarters

 

Attribution: Sam Webb, Mail Online

About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).

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